In a crackdown on non-paying consumers in areas with high distribution losses and low collection efficiency, the state electricity distribution utility has decided against doing away with power cuts in such regions even though it is in a position to bridge the demand-supply gap.
This means the state government’s much talked about plan to do away with load-shedding in Maharashtra by end of 2012 will not happen.
The Maharashtra State Electricity Distribution Company Limited (MahaVitaran) has divided 16,768 feeders into groups from A to G1, G2 and G3 depending upon the losses. While load-shedding has been removed in A, B, C and D groups, it is being carried out in E, F and G groups, which cover regions like Marathwada, Jalgaon and Nashik.
Though power cuts in the D group were withdrawn in October, the plans to remove it in E and F groups in subsequent months fell through. The state’s demand for electricity is around 14,500MW while supply from all sources is around 13,750 to 14,000 MW.
“Though we can fill the gap by buying power from the market at the rate at which it is generated by some of our units at Parli, Paras and Ratnagiri, the problem is that people refuse to pay their bills. If a payment culture is not developed, the power sector will be in trouble,” the official said, adding that power was available on the exchange at around Rs3.80 to Rs4 per unit.
“If the people come forward and pay regularly… we will immediately withdraw load-shedding,” the official said. He added that of the around 1,100 feeders on which load-shedding was being carried out, around 400 had losses of over 68%. The Maharashtra State Power Generation Company Limited’s (MahaGenco) 1,130MW Parli thermal power station is facing water shortage and its Uran power plant is suffering from low gas supply.
The official load-shedding varies from 6.15 hours to 11 hours in urban areas to 13 hours to 16 hours in rural areas, though officials said actual load shedding was lower due to improved availability.